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I Want You! … To Give Me Your Healthy Tips

Posted Oct 27 2010 6:46pm

Hi, everyone! Thanks to all of you who offered your thoughts about my apple recipes from last week: it appears that many of you have strong opinions about cooking in a microwave! winking

Sometimes I do use the microwave when I’m in a rush. Even for things like oatmeal. While I prefer to make it on the stove, sometimes the microwave is just so much more time-effective!! ( Lauren )

Microwave for cooking? No. Never. Reheating, always. ( Valerie )

Microwave? No, everything cooked in a microwave sounds plain cheap to me. I even re-heat my food in the oven or stove. Takes longer, but I feel it tastes much better too!! (Christa)

For the most part, I prefer to use a stove or oven for cooking and re-heating (unless I’m running short on time!), but I do have a few select recipes for the microwave. In one of my food science classes, we experimented with cooking meat and veggies by various methods, including baking, frying, steaming, and microwaving. The result? The microwaving method turned out the poorest product by far. The veggies were limp and the meat was greyish – not the most attractive food for any picky eaters.  Microwaved apples, on the other hand, are pretty tasty happy  Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

Next up: remember when Peter built his sous-vide cooking device and I asked for suggestions on what we should cook sous-vide next? We’d like to try all your suggestions eventually, but in the meantime, we both wanted to try Denise ‘s idea:

Sous vide?! I’m impressed….. and a bit scared LOL How about sous viding *grin* ribs?

Great idea, Denise !

With Maddie's watchful eye.

Peter picked up four ENORMOUS short ribs at Stew Leonard ‘s, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, then cooked them in the sous-vide device for 36 hours!!!! Hey, if you want to get it done right, you have to be patient :)

How did they turn out?

Served with a side of sauteed kale, Peter-made picked cucumber, and whole grain bread (unpictured), these ribs were tender and somehow more flavorful than roasted ribs, even without sauce. Yep, I’m a sous-vide convert happy I’m looking forward to trying more of your suggestions!


On an unrelated matter, my friend Tanya recently had this request:

Maybe you can write a post or give me some advice on this– I know a decent amount about nutrition, but my husband (weird!!!) doesn’t and is just starting to get interested in learning. Because it’s so intuitive to me at this point, it’s difficult for me to teach him in any sort of methodical or useful way. I assume you have some suggestions? (P.S. last month he tried to tell me that his enormous chocolate chip muffin bought at a street cart was (a) healthyish and (b) ~300 calories. So we’re starting at that super-basic level.

Great question, Tanya ! As someone who studying to be a registered dietitian, I sometimes forget that not everyone has had the privilege of learning about nutrition in classes and in practice. Before delving into this fascinating topic, I want to emphasize a couple of things: first, nutrition is not JUST about food – the field of nutrition encompasses anatomy, physiology, psychology, genetics, environmental and social influences, and much, much more. Complicated. Suggestions that I offer will not work for everyone, but having good, solid guidelines can be helpful when individual counseling is not possible. Second, I am not attempting to help anyone lose or gain weight. If you are looking to do either, STOP! Meet with your friendly local RD so that she or he can help you come up with a healthy eating plan.

Finally, these tips are NOT designed to restrict your diet; instead, they are for readers who are interested in a few, general tips for healthy living. I offer this information to give you knowledge – I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be informed when I make healthy living choices happy These tips may seem intuitive, or you may know them already. Nevertheless, I believe that reading a short list of the most important healthy changes you can make may help some people take that extra step and try them.

Here they be (1) Eat a lot of WHOLE vegetables and fruits in as many colors as possible.
(2) Choose WHOLE GRAINS.
(3) Follow the New American Plate .
(4) Move.

Let’s go into a little more detail:

(1) Eat a lot of WHOLE vegetables and fruits in as many colors as possible.

Why “whole”? Whole produce gives you fiber and many micronutrients in the skin – much more than any juice or soft drink. Fiber keeps you full for a longer time. Ever notice that a glass of apple juice doesn’t keep you as full as an apple? Studies show that people who drink juices and soda eat just as much at meals as those who choose a non-caloric beverage instead. Over time, those liquid calories add up.

Why “colorful”? Fruit and veggies of various colors have different phytochemicals that do wonderful things for your body! For example, tomatoes have lycopene, a phytochemical that has the potential to protect against some cancers. (For a more complete list, check here .) So, as we say in our nutrition classes, “Eat the Rainbow!

How many servings? As many as you can eat (comfortably). These servings include fresh, frozen, canned (watch the salt!), and dried (no sugar added, smaller portions).

(2) Choose WHOLE GRAINS.

I go into more detail about how to find whole grains in this post . This tip is tricky because manufacturers know that people are looking for whole grain products, so they disguise their refined-grain product as healthy. The low-down:

* Look at the ingredient label. Is EVERY grain listed proceeded by the world “whole”? No whole, no go! That “15 Grain” bread?  Chances are the bread contains no whole grains.
* If you are buying an item with no nutrition label (like a muffin at a coffee shop), ask someone behind the counter or (if you are able) check the shop’s website. Many restaurants are posting ingredients and nutrition info. online.
* It’s A-Ok to eat refined flour products (like that chocolate muffin) – just make sure they are a “sometimes” food, rather than an “all-the-time” food. Moderation, people, moderation.

(3) Follow the New American Plate .

The basics: Look at your 9-inch plate: to enjoy a healthy plate, fill half of the plate with non-starchy veggies and fruit (that would be your lettuce, carrots, broccoli, peppers, etc.), one-fourth with starch (brown rice, whole grain pasta/bread, potato, corn, peas, etc.), and one-fourth with lean protein (chicken, pork, fish, tofu, etc.). This setup will maximize your veggies and fruits, while minimizing animal protein. ( … I realize by writing that last bit about meat, I will incite indignation from some people. While meat can be a part of any healthy diet, smaller portions will maximize your health – and allow more room for fruits and veggies! Also, I realize that the short rib in my sous-vide photo is enormous! Peter put the whole rib on my plate for photography purposes – I later removed some rib for a more appropriate portion winking )

(4) Move.

Last note: Knowledge of portion sizes is an essential part of any nutrition education. Instead of offering confusing info. about portions, I’m going to defer to this excellent site, where you can play a game that teaches you all about portion sizes: Portion Distortion .

Please feel free to ask me any questions about these four tips happy Now, to turn the tables on you: it’s been a while since I’ve gathered YOUR tips for healthy living (check out the “ Reader Tips ” tab on the top menu bar for previous lists: “Healthy Snacks” and “How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep” ). So, tell me:

Q: What is/are YOUR simple tip(s) for healthy living? What guideline(s) do YOU follow?


What do you do to motivate yourself for exercise? Whenever I don’t feel like exercising, I tell myself that I only need to start exercising. I find that once I start, I want to keep going!

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